Last week was National Indigenous Peoples Day. We recognized the day at the beginning of the day with our students. What makes this day important for our school is that we have been on a three year journey as a school delving into our connections to the Squamish Nation and Coast Salish People, the indigenous content of the new curriculum and the First Peoples Principles of Learning. We became the Bear through this learning, we gathered greater understandings of the experiences of our indigenous community and we were able to experience the cultural traditions and teachings of the Squamish Nation which led to a better understanding of all the cultures that makes us a school community.
With our whole school inquiry this year we explored the idea of “Harmony: Celebrating the Greatness of Us”. Through this inquiry we solidified our path moving forward as a school that recognizes the importance of our connection to the indigenous community and the opportunities that this relationship brings to further enhance the harmony of us.
At our House Post ceremony, we had a number of excellent speakers who served as witnesses. Nancy Farran, Chair of the West Vancouver Foundation, represented the community; Roger Kuyper, a father represented our parents; and Paula Stevens, a teacher and mother represented our staff. Paula has been a part of our learning journey from the beginning, and eloquently expressed the impact of our connection with S7aplek, Xwalacktun, Yeltsilewet and the Squamish Nation:
O’Siyam. Thank you for this opportunity to witness this very powerful and special ceremony, the opportunity to come together as a community and a school family, the opportunity to celebrate the presentation of our carved house post, and, for me, the opportunity to reflect back on what has been a three year journey to becoming the bear.
Our journey of the adoption of the bear was a transformation for this school – much like the transformation of the yellow cedar log to the carving of the mother bear protecting her cubs.
The wiping down of this remarkable carving with the moist cedar bows, and then floating the bows down river to send away negative feelings of ill will and hurt, was a cleansing. As a school we underwent a cleansing of sorts to build a stronger community. Through our whole school inquiries, mixed age groupings, grade 7 leadership roles and a commitment to new, stronger positive values, this school community has become remarkable as well.
These bear represents what we value most at Caulfeild, values such as confidence, strength, fearlessness, leadership, tenacity, respect, support and above all family. We have built stronger connections amongst ourselves, our community and those whose ancestors once hunted on these lands.
I thank you for allowing us to witness this ceremony and your rich culture. May these bears, strong in mind and heart, and strong in spirit, continue to guide us and always remind us of how we are all connected in harmony.